You may want to think twice before letting your beloved dog lick you if you’ve got a cut or scrape.
An Ohio woman, Marie Trainer, ended up having her arms and legs partially amputated after becoming infected with bacteria found in dog saliva.
“[The doctors] described it as just the perfect storm,” Marie’s step-daughter, Gina Premier, told ABC News. “Somehow the dog saliva entered her system and caused this case of events.”
Marie reported feeling ill after returning from a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic with her husband of 32 years, Matthew Trainer. At first she thought it was the flu, but her health continued to deteriorate. She was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors said Marie was experiencing liver and kidney failure. However, they couldn’t pinpoint the cause. Marie was transferred to another hospital — Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio where her step-daughter is a nurse practitioner — and put in a medically-induced coma for 10 days.
After transferring Marie to a third hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, she finally got a diagnosis: Capnocytophaga — a very rare bacterial infection. The bacteria live in the mouths of dogs and cats and can enter a human being’s bloodstream through bites, scratches or close contact with those pets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The infection can lead to sepsis — a potentially life-threatening illness that can cause organ failure. About 3 in 10 people who develop a severe Capnocytophaga infection die, according to the CDC.
The Trainers, who have two dogs, suspect that one of their dogs licked a small scrape on Marie’s arm, leading to the dangerous infection.
It’s worth noting that most people who come into contact with the bacteria from dogs and cats do not get sick. Per the CDC, the illness is more likely to occur in people with weakened immune systems, who have a harder time fighting off infections, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, or those taking certain medications, such as steroids.
For Marie, the infection attacked the small blood vessels in her arms, hands, legs, and feet. The decreased blood flow eventually caused gangrene to develop in her extremities. To save her life, doctors had to amputate parts of her arms and legs. Marie has undergone eight surgeries, according to ABC News.
Her husband Matthew set up a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses, prosthetic limbs, and her road to recovery. Despite what they’ve been through, the Trainers told Fox 8 that they have no intention of getting rid of their dogs. “We still love our animals,” Matthew told the news outlet.
“It was just a random and rare occurrence that caused the perfect storm within her body resulting in the devastating illness,” Matthew wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Her life, our lives, everything as she and we knew it is forever changed.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: